Yet another sleepless night in a swag spent fighting with my twisting sleeping bag and cold breeze freezing my head and hands. Sigh, I'm just not built for this sort of 'au naturel' outdoor thing. On the plus side, I had plenty of time to spot loads of shooting stars and the Milky Way spilling out across the sky above me and, as this was our final day, I could fantasise about the warm bed and roof over my head in Sydney that night.
We were whisked away to watch the sunrise over Uluru and to eat breakfast in, you guessed it, yet another car park! After which, Cooper dropped us off so we could head out on the 8km Base Walk around Uluru. Sadly, almost everyday there are many people who climb the summit of Uluru - even though 35 people have died over the years and it is against the wishes of the Ananga people who are the custodians of the area.
Luckily, our guide, Cooper is very sensitive to this and neither encourages nor supports people climbing the rock. So, we enjoyed walking around the base, instead, and explored the natural surroundings, cave rock art and fresh springs. It was really amazing to meander along the path surrounded by the eucalyptus trees, scorched red earth and desert silence. I can understand why people are drawn to this part of the world and why they brave the millions of flies, toasting temperatures and desolate desert. There's just something special about the place that defies logic.
All good things, however, must come to an end. I think this was a wonderful way to end our trip to Australia and am very glad we decided to do this tour. We said our goodbyes to everyone and were dropped off at the Ayer's Rock Airport for the flight back to Sydney. Stayed at a budget airport hotel for our last night in Oz as we had an early flight to Queenstown the next day.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye Australia! Have had a great time travelling here and burnt a HUGE hole in my travel pocket. Have enjoyed reconnecting with my friends Lelania, Christie, Rochelle and Dimitra - as well as meeting new people along the journey. Have marvelled at the variety of landscapes that Australia has to offer but also been surprised at some of the odd things too.
Like many of the "New World" countries (similar to America and South Africa), Australia is a beautiful land of many contrasts. The contrast between rural and urban Australia, between native and colonial/immigrant cultures, between the lush coast and the barren Outback, between the expansion of American fast food and the pockets of refined gastronomic fare.
P.s. As a final goodbye, we were charged $5.50 each to transfer on the bus from the Domestic to the International terminal in Sydney. Australia, you shafted us one last time!